- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

POTOMAC, Md. — Expect the crowd following Denny McCarthy this week at the Quicken Loans National to be big. As big as his ticket allowance will permit.

The PGA Tour rookie was born in Takoma Park, Maryland, and went to high school at Georgetown Prep less than a half-hour away from TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, the site of this week’s Tour stop. The number of friends and family who want to come watch him play is still growing.

“As players, we get a certain number of tickets online and (when) I registered this morning, I was like, ‘I think I’m going to need a lot more,’” McCarthy said Tuesday. “I’m probably going to need to start asking other players if they’re going to use all their tickets, too, because I’m going to need a lot.”

McCarthy could have the hometown advantage as he hits the course with 119 other golfers at The National. The field is headlined by tournament host Tiger Woods, world No. 8 Rickie Fowler and major winners Jimmy Walker, Geoff Ogilvy and Stewart Cink.

McCarthy, 25, qualified for the PGA Tour last fall and has had a pedestrian rookie year so far. His only top 10 was a fourth-place finish at a relatively new alternate event in the Dominican Republic. He made the cut on the number last week at the Travelers Championship by sinking a 25-foot birdie putt on his final hole of the second round.

Though he isn’t intensely familiar with TPC Potomac, McCarthy has trained at the course during his off weeks this year. Having a group of family and friends to spend time with when he’s done playing will be a pleasant change of pace for McCarthy, but he won’t let it distract him, either.

“I just need to make sure I stay committed to my game plan and what I’m trying to do out there and not think too far ahead,” he said. “You know, you can’t win the golf tournament in the first day or two, but you can lose it, for sure.”

McCarthy also has fans in Virginia. He played at the University of Virginia from 2011 to 2015 for coach Bowen Sargent, who recalls McCarthy’s commitment to “fighting” and playing hard every day with the Cavaliers.

“I think of a guy that lays it on the line every single day, and he did that for four years here at Virginia, whether we were having a chipping contest or a putting contest or whether we were playing at ACCs or NCAAs,” said Sargent, who is entering his 15th season as Virginia’s coach.

Sargent said McCarthy felt that it took him too long to graduate from the Web.com Tour to the PGA Tour, although he did so in just two years. During that time, McCarthy feels the most improved part of his game was his driving, which used to be very inconsistent.

“This year I’ve seen dramatic improvements week in and week out … It’s one of the better parts of my game now,” he said. “I’m not the longest guy out here, I’m not the shortest guy out here, I would say I’m slightly above average length, but my accuracy’s gotten a lot better and that’s given me a lot more chances out of the fairway.”

Perhaps it can be chalked up to his interest in analyzing his Shotlink data, detailed data the Tour collects for its players to learn from. He gives his brother Ryan, an accountant and former college golfer, access to his data, and Ryan sends him some spreadsheets every few weeks.

But it took time for McCarthy to open up to using advanced data, Sargent said.

“As he came into school, we started introducing things about how tour pros think and what they think about,” Sargent said. “Initially he was kind of like, ‘I just want to play golf. I don’t want to think about all this stuff.’ But I think he’s realized again the value in that and understanding your own game and understanding how Tour pros play.”

Now McCarthy is one of the Tour pros himself, and preparing for what’s sure to be a memorable week in his home state.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide